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Department of Defense Collaborates with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to Fund Promising Grant Applications

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will be collaborating with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (MJFF) to fund seven proposals in Parkinson's research submitted under the Foundation's Fast Track 2002 program. The funding is part of the U.S. Army's Neurotoxin Exposure Treatment Research Program (NETRP), which studies factors to prevent and reduce the risk of military exposure to toxins that may cause neurological disorders.  Under this program, the DOD advances research on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Parkinson's disease as a model for neurological dysfunction that may be caused by environmental or occupational exposure in the course of military operations.

Concerned about the dangers neurotoxins increasingly posed to military personnel, Congress established this research program in 1997.  To date, the DOD's neurotoxin program has received over $112 million in research funding, awarding more than 92 grants in 22 states and 4 foreign countries.  For fiscal year 2003, more than $21 million was appropriated for NETRP. The program has had many significant scientific and methodological breakthroughs, including linking environmental toxins to increased susceptibility to damage to dopamine neurons and developing imaging software to measure the brain alterations in Parkinson's disease.

"We have a shared interest: the NETRP and MJF Foundation program both try to understand exposure risks to the body's neurological functions and find ways to minimize potential damage, " said LTC Karl E. Friedl, Director of Research Area Directorate III, United States Army Medical Research and Materiel Command.  "MJFF's Fast Track program generated a large draw of high quality applications relevant to our mutual interests, and we are pleased to leverage the results of their initiative by contributing to the development of research that could have beneficial results for both our missions."

"Frequently the number of quality grant applications we receive exceeds our allocated budget on a particular program," explained Deborah W. Brooks, executive director of MJFF.  "The science is consistently ahead of the money; so we are thrilled when we are able to work with a partner to direct funding to promising projects in the field of Parkinson's research."

Under the neurotoxin program, DOD will negotiate to fund the following additional Fast Track 2002 grants: 

Georg Becker, MD
Director and Chairman,
Department of Neurology
Saarland University, Germany
"Susceptibility for Parkinson's Disease Detected by Transcranial Ultrasound"

Patrik Brundin, MD, PhD                   Peter Eriksson, MD, PhD
Professor in Neuroscience                   Institute of Clinical Neuroscience
Section for Neuronal Survival            Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden                 
Lund University, Sweden
"Developing Human Embryonic Stem Cells for Grafting in Parkinson's Disease"

Paul M. Carvey, PhD
Professor and Director of Neuropharmacology Research Laboratories
Department of Pharmacology
Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center
"Mechanisms for Prenatal LPS-Induced Dopamine Neuron Loss" 

Rong Chen, MD, PhD
Research Scientist
Basic Research
The Parkinson's Institute
"Large Scale Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Study of PD Susceptibility" 

Stefano Gustincich, PhD
Associate Professor and Head of Laboratory
Biophysics and Neuroscience
International School for Advanced Studies
Trieste, Italy
"Functional Genomics of Dopaminergic Neurons and Mouse Models of Parkinson's Disease" 

Zachary Mainen, PhD
Assistant Professor
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
"Electrophysological Monitoring of the Interactions Between the Serotonin and Dopamine Systems During Goal-Directed Behavior Within the Freely Behaving Rat" 

David S. Park, PhD
Assistant Professor
Neuroscience Researh Institute
University of Ottawa, Canada
"Neurotoxin-Immune Interactions as an Important Determinant to the Initiation of Parkinsonism"

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